Better safe than sorry

Health Canada provides everything a parent needs know about child safety in its booklet “Is Your Child Safe?” The following are abridged excerpts that outline some basics for parents of toddlers.

Household chemical products, such as bleaches, paint thinners, ammonia, and abrasive cleaners are among the top causes of injuries and deaths in children under the age of 5. Even a small amount of a chemical product can be harmful to a child. Bad taste and odours do not keep children away from chemical products. Chemical products can be poisonous, flammable, corrosive, or the containers can be explosive when exposed to a heat source.

  • Teach children that the hazard symbols on the containers mean “danger, do not touch”!
  • Keep all chemical products in a locked cupboard that is out of the reach of children. Never let children play with the containers.
  • Keep household chemical products in original containers. Do not transfer or store chemical products into beverage containers. Never cover up or remove labels. Keep all safety information.
  • Make sure that child-resistant closures are working properly.
  • Keep in mind that child-resistant closures are not child-proof.
  • Close the cap on the container tightly even if you set it down for a moment.
  • Keep the phone number for the poison control centre in your contacts or by your telephone.
  • Keep other harmful products, such as cosmetics, drugs, vitamins and first-aid treatment products, out of the sight and reach of children.

Play Time

  • Select only toys suitable for the child’s age group, and make sure to read and follow all warnings, safety messages, and instructions that come with the toy.
  • Supervise children at play and teach them how to use toys safely.
  • Keep small toys, small balls, or small loose toy parts out of the sight and reach of children under 3 years of age or older children who still put toys in their mouth. The small items are choking hazards.
  • Repair or throw away weak or broken toys – check often for hazards like loose parts, broken pieces, or sharp edges.
  • Avoid toys with cords, especially stretchy cords that are long enough to wrap around a child’s neck.
  • Avoid loud noise-emitting toys as the noise can harm a child’s hearing. If you have to yell to be heard above the sound of a toy, then it is likely too loud for a child and should not be used.

Toy Boxes

  • Using a toy box without a lid is safer – boxes with heavy lids can fall on a child’s head or neck causing serious injury or death.
  • Children should not have access to airtight storage bins, trunks, or boxes. Access to these types of storage products could lead to suffocation if a child climbs inside.

Ride-On Toys

  • Be aware that a child on a wheeled ride-on toy can move very quickly. These toys should be used away from hazards such as lamps, cords, decorations, or appliances that could be knocked or pulled down onto the child.
  • Choose a ride-on toy that suits the child’s age, size, and abilities.
  • Check that the ride-on toy will not tip when the child is using it.
  • Use of a ride-on toy should be far away from stairs, traffic, swimming pools, and other dangerous areas.


  • Balloons have caused a number of deaths. Health Canada is aware of deaths having occurred in children as old as 9 years. Balloons or broken balloon pieces can be inhaled and as a result, block a child’s airway.
  • Use balloons for decoration, not for play.
  • Keep inflated and uninflated balloons, and pieces of broken balloons, out of the reach of children.
  • Balloons should always be inflated by adults.

Toys with Batteries

  • Make sure batteries in toys are not accessible to the child.
  • Adults should install batteries. Improper installation, or mixing different battery types, can cause batteries to leak or overheat, which could injure a child.
  • A child should not take battery operated toys to bed. Burns or other injuries could result from batteries leaking or overheating.
  • Call your doctor or poison control centre right away if a child swallows a battery. Batteries can be poisonous.

For more information, see Stay Safe – An Education Program About Hazard Symbols! on the Health Canada Web site at